PC Virtualisation

Using a technology such as Microsoft’s VirtualPC is ideal for developers. In a nutshell, it allows you to run a virtual copy of Windows 98/2000/XP on your desktop.

In the screenshot below you’ll see my local copy of XP running a virtual copy of XP. The progress bar is showing a file being copied over to the desktop of the virtual PC after I dragged it in there from my PC.

For me, the benefits of using this type of software are:

– Older operating systems such as 98, NT4, and 2000 can be run without the need for multi-booting. This is great for testing your app works on legacy PCs.

– You can work on your normal desktop and switch to the virtual PC as if it’s another windows app.

– Each virtual PC can be setup to discard changes when you’re shutting it down; this is ideal for trying out software in an environment you can reset to a pristine state afterwards.

– The virtual hard drive for each PC is kept in a single file on your proper PCs hard drive. This makes it very easy to backup, or copy onto another PC (OS license permitting).

– The VirtualPC software is completely free! (but it does require you to have the relevant OS licenses for each virtual PC you create).

All in all it’s a good piece of software to try, especially if you’re a developer who doesn’t have a host of PCs to use as a test suite.

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